Gay Bombs & Penis Plants: 3 Subversive Queer Artists That'll Eff Your World

By: Daniel Villarreal


A woman lays prostrate on an examination table, her mostly naked body bound in a white bandage dress.

Above her, a medical examiner in a corset repeatedly scans the woman's body with a metallic phallus. The xaminer's patient quivers, her hand caressing the breast that has fallen bare from the examiner's clothes.

On a stage behind them, two purple aliens lit darkly by blacklight wrestle in embrace; they could be fighting, fucking or trying to escape — one cannot know.

These are the sorts of "constructed fictional realities" that performance artist, hacktivist and gender theorist Micha Cardenas delights in staging; displays where societal confines — embodied by ropes and lashes of BDSM play — fuse with a new interactive queer technology of blinking fiber optic cables, the very same that allow currently people to connect worldwide.

When she showcased her prototype fashions for UCLA's Queerture Queer + Couture Fashion Show a few years ago, her collaborative designs featured models tangled in exoskeletons of headphones, adapters, exposed electronics, wire and tape — future citizens enmeshed in communication networks and yet liberated by them, able to experience survival and pleasure in new ways seperate from corporate control.

Cardenas' idea is that people can "queer" communication by reconfiguring phones, wires and cables into our clothes, bodies and every aspect of self-expression, even sexual self-expression.

"As global capitalism continues to produce new forms of emergency daily, from ecological to economic disasters to mass uprisings," Cardenas says, "it is clear that people can no longer depend on corporate networks of communication."

At her talk at the 2012 SXSW panel on queer theory and art, Cardenas suggested retooling the medical communications once used to stigmatize the queer community — talk of viruses, contagion and exposure — and change it into an empowering parlance where queer ideas threaten to infect the political mind with viral ideas, alien identities and epidemic possibilities.

Tags: ART